My 111th flight of the expedition, my second hire car and on to Croc Bridge.
Today felt like one of my typical days of the trip. I mean this in the sense that I was back on a plane again. For me, getting on a plane every few days has certainly become the norm, and if I don’t get told how to wear a seat belt or to stow my tray table and close my window blind, I feel I’m not at home. So today was back to the status quo.
My time along the beautiful Garden Route has come to an end. The little silver, pathetically slow, yet very fuel-efficient Volkswagen Polo has made it from Cape Town all the way along the ocean-full coast, 1,800km, to Port Elizabeth. Plenty of detours to see fantastic animals, mountains and special creatures like humpback whales and local people in tiny villages.
My break time is nearly over. Today I swapped one hire car for another, a Volkswagen for a Ford. After an early start this morning I drove the hour or so to Port Elizabeth. I waved goodbye to the car and jumped on a flight at 8am to Johannesburg. From Joburg I picked up a lovely white Ford Eco SUV and trundled along the long and barren roads for five hours. I am now finally here, in the national park of national parks, Kruger, home to hundreds of thousands of animals.
I will now spend my last few bonus days here in Kruger before getting back into my routine – travel, run, rest, repeat.
I’m staying at a fantastically welcoming camp called Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge. Within minutes of arriving the wildlife was present – elephants, lions, buffalo and hippos within a few metres from camp. A self-catering home, and I say ‘home’ in the most literal sense. Everyone eats together, cooks together and chats together. Tomorrow I’m going to make the most of this place and get up early. How many animals do you think I’ll see?
I’m now tucked up in the little tent after a big tasty BBQ (or braai, as they say here) with home-cooked bread. Full, knackered, and ready to sleep. A plane, two cars, 600km, and now bed.
Day 199 – Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge, South Africa, Kruger Day 1
HOW MANY ANIMALS DID I SEE TODAY? Guess before reading on! This was a great day.
The thought of those cold, winter, 44 European marathons coming up is daunting. I’ve been moaning about the sun, so prepare for me to moan about the cold. Today, though, no complaints at all.
Imagine when a kid enters a sweet shop – eyes wide, big grin, excitedly fidgety and ready for great things. This was me setting off on my first few miles from Crocodile Bridge this morning.
Here’s the count of today’s 10 hours exploring the National Park:
Vervet monkey 3
White rhino 3
Bush pig 11
African elephant 60
Burchell’s zebra 33
Greater kudu 6
African buffalo 7
Blue wildebeest 12
Impala (too many to count)
Slender mongoose 5
Dwarf mongoose 4
Rock monitor 1
Striped skink 1
Brown snake eagle 1
Steppe buzzard 1
Yellow-billed egret 1
African jacana 4
Natal spurfowl 2
Helmeted guineafowl 4
Kori bustard 3
Black-bellied bustard 3
Burchell’s starling 1
Cape glossy starling (too many to count)
Magpie shrike 3
Southern yellow-billed hornbill 10
European roller 1
Lilac-breasted roller 1
Burchell’s coucal 1
Crested barbet 1
Grey go-away-bird 2
Village indigobird 1
As you can imagine, this is pretty awesome in the literal sense – I was in awe. Thanks to Dave at the camp – he lent me his huge new lens so I was able to snap every animal I saw.
I witnessed two lions stalking zebra, elephants washing, rhino grazing and giraffe looking like they own the place. What a day. I have a feeling this is going to be hard to beat. What’s your favourite big animal?
200 days tomorrow – eek! I will celebrate with a good sort-out of my photos. I’m so excited to get my photography exhibition started – so many great shots and not enough time to look at them all. We all chatted around the crackling campfire. Friends, food, animals and then sleep to the sound track of hundreds of crickets and frogs.
Day 200 – Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa, 493 days to go!
STATS TIME x 2!
Oh my! I’m at 200 days. Sometimes it feels like 3,000 and other times it feels like a week. THANK YOU everyone for getting me this far.
PLEASE TAG AND SHARE!
Another milestone has been reached. I have not yet been eaten by animals (although a dog did try for my leg), I have my health, my happiness and the prospect of another 17 months of running.
I’d like to tell you some stats about Prostate Cancer and the reason I’m doing this trip. Please read this and understand that these aren’t just numbers – these are people. You and I can do something to help stop prostate cancer.
⚠ Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that’s 129 men every day.
⚠ Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer – that’s more than 11,000 men every year.
⚠ 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Steps running 2,700,000
Miles running 1,572
Countries visited 99
Morning miles running 1,493
Darkness miles running 79
Lowest temperature –25°C
Highest temperature +44°C
Bribes paid 18
Cars broken down 1
Kilometres driven 2,211
Photos taken 65,405
New friends made 129
Number of animals seen 185
Number of languages heard 9
Tribes met 2
Volcanoes seen 24
Continents visited 5
Highest altitude experienced 15,780 feet
AND EVEN MORE!
58 big planes 58 ✈ tiny planes 52
Hitch hikes 2
Juice Plus tablets 400
Pulsin bars 99
Room service 57
Pasta dishes 119
Crap food days 46
No meal days 35
Chocolate bars 98
Dog bite 1
Tooth infection 1
Painkiller-free days 158
Malaria tablets 89
Different beds 63
Host families 8
Guest houses 19
Number of donations 316
Fundraising total £31,375
Still to raise £218,625
Please donate now. Search for ‘JustGiving Nick Butter’.
Day 201 – South Africa
Five lions eating a rhino today, my last day in South Africa!
I’d like to remind you of all the ways to get involved in the expedition.
During the trip:
VIRTUAL CHALLENGE – if you are a runner and fancy doing a few miles in support of my challenge, please head to my website and sign up. Your challenge is to run 196 miles while I run 196 marathons. You have as long as it takes me to finish the trip, and you can complete the miles in short stints, or all in one go, if you’re feeling brave.
T-SHIRT – Support by buying an official Running The World 196 t-shirt. Head to the website or buy one when you sign up to the virtual challenge.
SPONSOR A MARATHON – Every country and every marathon there’s a chance to be the sole sponsor – check out the details online.
RUN WITH ME – Please come and run with me. There’s no set pace, beginners or hardened runners, all are welcome. Do a few miles or do the whole thing. Absolutely free, just let me know, and I’ll see you in whichever country you pick.
GIVE ME A BED – If you live in a country I’m yet to travel to you have a chance to be part of the journey and help out. The people I’ve stayed with so far have been amazing. I’d be so grateful if you could put me up.
After the trip:
CLOSING EVENT – March 2020, a few months after I finish the trip (11 November 2019) the team and I are hosting a big bash to celebrate the end of the expedition. About 500 people, black tie, auction, three-course dinner and lots of photos. Plus a talk from me, obviously. Interested?
PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION – As well as the closing event we are launching a 12-month photography exhibition. Our aim is to exhibit in 12 cities over 12 months around the globe. First stop London, then on to Stockholm. Exciting, isn’t it?!
THE BOOK – I’m always excited when I sit down to write some more of the book. My aim is to have a great book all written and available by March 2020. Tag someone who may want one.
PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK – This is a real passion of mine – one big luxury hardback photo journal with photos from all over the world.
Day 202 – Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge, South Africa, Kruger to Johannesburg
1,327km driven in the once new and white Ford SUV, which is now very much dirt red. The tiny red dust of Kruger gets everywhere, especially in camera lenses.
Today started with a tasty self-cooked fry-up overlooking the Croc Bridge as the sun rose, naturally featuring crocs plus the majestic kudu just a few feet away.
I made the five-hour journey away from the beauty of Kruger National Park and along the vast roads back to Joburg. One quick stopover and then off to Botswana.
It was sad to say goodbye to the folks at the Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge. If you want to experience all the wonders of the biggest animals in the world, then don’t bother going anywhere else. Namibia was awesome but not a patch on Kruger, with thousands of hectares of typical African wilderness. The Lodge is situated right at the bottom of the park with the entrance just 50 metres away. Every evening we had great steaks on the braai, a crackling fire and great company. The Lodge is run by two couples and owned by another. These folks are super-friendly and I’ll certainly be going back. I even got some pro photography tips from Dave. Cheers, Dave. TripAdvisor doesn’t have an option for this place, so just make a note and pay it a visit. Camping and self-catering with lions and elephants right outside beats a 5 star hotel any day. Thanks Croc Bridge – a perfect way to end my rest time in South Africa.
After passing the millions of orange trees lining the roadside I reached the rental car drop-off – no problems, despite the extreme dirt.
One far less inviting and completely bizarre situation was a service station on the drive back. The gents’ toilets overlooked a game reserve – a tiny enclosure and five rhino plus kudu and impala. Very odd!
I’m writing this in a small Chinese restaurant just around the corner from my hotel. I’ve just scoffed my face with tasty food and paid the bill of £8.40! Bargain.
A long drive and now my thoughts turn to the next phase of the journey – one more month of Southern and East Africa, and then a month of Europe.
Day 203 – O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa to Botswana
All aboard the happy train.
Ahhh, back to planes, filling in tiny forms, standing in slow-moving queues and waiting for luggage. Here we go again. Country 61 – bring it on.
I spent most of today catching up on admin again – backing up photos, and generally making the most of the Wi-Fi in the airport, pre flight to Gaborone. Working on #wonderFULL magazine was also a priority today.
I squished my now very over-packed bags onto a tiny propeller plane along with 26 other passengers. My bag has now become a hoarding ground for souvenirs.
I arrived at the Grand Palm Hotel mid-afternoon, and managed to find some time to catch up with family on the phone. I’ve not been feeling too well for a few days – no showstoppers, just not drinking enough water and eating the right things maybe… perhaps something to do with a huge steak every evening for the past week.
Reminder: 203 of 675 days today. The trip was originally 550 days, but due to some flight cancellations and not wanting to rush the last three phases of the journey, the team and I extended it. More time for photos, rest, and likely hiccups.
Tomorrow I run around Gaborone for Marathon 61 of the trip. I’m so excited to get back in my trainers. I feel like I’ve had so much rest, I almost feel lazy. Not much rest for the next six weeks now, so here we go.
Some more kit:
Compression: Rehband, simply the best compression socks I’ve ever worn. I have got through eight pairs of these. Some of the tightest compression I’ve worn and it really works. They do get a bit crusty after about 10 marathons without washes! Yuk, right?
Watch: Suunto! I use a Spartan watch and it hasn’t failed me yet! Fingers crossed. Everything then gets uploaded to Strava automatically, when Wi-Fi permits…
Day 204 – Gaborone, Botswana, Marathon 61
Do you have a mantra or a little saying that always gets you through your runs?
Whenever I have more than three days between runs (which is now very rare), my hips and knees always take a while to remember that it’s not easy. I never really struggle with running, and I think it’s mostly because my mind has done it so many times that I’m naturally prepared, like a default setting. The body will obey the mind 90% of the time, but the mind will drag the body down 100% of the time.
Many of you may not know that I’m not really a marathon runner; okay, so I have run about 400 marathons, and I guess that does make me a marathon runner… however… the longer the distance the better I do in races, and the more I enjoy it.
Going fast isn’t a priority for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, one day I’ll have a crack at reducing my PBs… but for this trip especially, I’d much rather enjoy the country I’m seeing, keep my body as fresh as possible and just enjoy it without the near-death feeling you get after a hard training session.
Back home I used to regularly train with 24-hour training days, starting at midday on a Saturday and finishing midday on a Sunday. No sleep, just a break every couple of hours to grab food and drink. My route was 4 miles up and 4 miles back, repeat until 24 hours is up. Those days, nights and the very sore miles made my mind strong, not to mention giving me the belief that no matter how tough a marathon gets, I’ll get through it, even if I have to finish on crutches – which has happened! The last 10 miles of a race once took me 6 hours because I broke my ankle. Those of you who were there know that it wasn’t pretty – more blisters on my hands than on my feet.
I’ve had a few people compliment me and say I make it look easy… Trust me, I’ve made it look very hard many many times. My dad always says to me, practice makes perfect… and annoyingly, he is always right. Practice and you’ll get better. Simple. Needless to say I’m practising quite a lot right now. I’m even pretty good at airports too.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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